Environmental defenders and indigenous healers in Peru are risking their lives to protect their last spiritual connection to the medicinal plants of the Amazon.
Dialogues with Plants
The plants breathe, feel and communicate with each other, their environment and animals, using light and other chemical processes.
"How do healers manage to find the exact properties, when there are 80 thousand species of higher plants in the forest? There is one chance in 6.4 billion to find the right recipe," says anthropologist Jeremy Narby.
The Ashaninka and Bora healers maintain that their knowledge about the specific use of plants, alone or mixed, is the result of dialogues with the plants themselves. The spirits of the plants.
Through their recipes, they use the psychoactive chemical that leads them to different states of consciousness. Over hundreds of years, this has provided them with key information on how to survive in the vast territory of the Amazon.
However, extractive activities are destroying their world. In Peru, more than 203,272 hectares of rainforest have been deforested in the last two years, 37% more than 2019 with raising numbers. Narco traffickers, illegal loggers, miners and others moved in to have control over the Amazon natural resources. Since 2020 alone, 20 leaders and environmental defenders have been assassinated. The Amazon indigenous people of Peru are disappearing and, along with them, vital knowledge about the use of the rarest plants is vanishing.
I strongly believe that the moment we become aware of the physical and spiritual connection of indigenous peoples with plants, we will all be able to get involved in its protection. I trust photography is a legitimate medium to make their sensitive world known, to raise their voice and bring their point of view to the world. An archive to celebrate them and to raise awareness to future generations.
Grants and Awards:
Helsinki Photo Festival 2023
Hamburg Portfolio Review 2022
POY LATAM 2021 Honor Mention for Photographer of the Year
Prix Nouvelles Écritures Festival La Gacilly 2021
Pulitzer Center Rainforest Journalism Fund Grantee
National Geographic Society COVID-19 Emergency Fund for Journalists
Awarded with the Getty Images Reportage Grant 2020
PhMuseum 2020 Women Photographers 3rd Prize